36 Quai des Orfèvres (film)

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36 Quai des Orfèvres
Directed byOlivier Marchal
Produced byFranck Chorot
Cyril Colbeau-Justin
Jean-Baptiste Dupont
Written byOlivier Marchal
Franck Mancuso
Julien Rappeneau
StarringDaniel Auteuil
Gérard Depardieu
André Dussollier
Roschdy Zem
Valeria Golino
Music byErwann Kermorvant
Axelle Renoir
CinematographyDenis Rouden
Edited byHugues Darmois
Distributed byGaumont Film Company
Release date
  • 24 November 2004 (2004-11-24)
Running time
110 minutes
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$18.3 million[2]

36 Quai des Orfèvres (also known as The 36) is a 2004 French film directed by Olivier Marchal and starring Daniel Auteuil and Gérard Depardieu. The film takes place in Paris, where two cops (Auteuil and Depardieu) are competing for the vacant seat of chief of the Paris Criminal police while involved in a search for a gang of violent thieves. The film is directed by Olivier Marchal, a former police officer who spent 12 years in the French police. The story is loosely inspired from real events which occurred during the 1980s in France (see the gang des postiches arrest). The film was nominated for eight César Awards. The movie was remade in South Korea in 2019 as The Beast.[3]


Two Prefecture of Police officers: Léo Vrinks (Daniel Auteuil), head of the BRI and Denis Klein (Gérard Depardieu), head of the BRB, both in Paris, wish to succeed their superior, the chief of the criminal police (André Dussolier), who is being promoted. Success depends on catching a murderous and highly active gang of armoured-car robbers. Another source of rivalry is that Vrinks' wife used to be Klein's lover.

Vrinks is an effective detective with loyal subordinates, and some unsavory informants. Klein, who has questionable ethics, is less accomplished. Consequently, his marriage is strained and he drinks heavily. Vrinks helps people such as a bartender, who is raped and beaten by Bruno (Ivan Franek) while being robbed. Vrinks and his team kidnap Bruno, drive him to a forest, strip and bind him, give him a mock execution, push him into an open grave, warn him to leave her alone and abandon him.

Vrinks' use of informants backfires when one on weekend release from prison, Silien (Roschdy Zem), tricks him into being his getaway driver when he murders a gangster whose testimony convicted him. Silien, in a quid pro quo for Vrinks' providing an alibi and keeping silent, tells him about the gang's personnel and hideout. Vrink, implicated in the murder, has little choice but to agree. The victim was an informant of Klein, who suspects Silien of involvement.

Vrinks' team stake out the hideout, with Klein's team as backup but, on the verge of arrests, Klein ignores procedure and drunkenly approaches the gang. While most are still apprehended, an alerted car load open fire, killing Vrinks' best friend and taking a detective hostage. Later, she escapes and one of the criminals is caught and another shot while trying to force a roadblock.

An investigation is launched into the detective's death, but one of Klein's informants coincidentally introduces him to a prostitute who witnessed the murder by Silien. Discovering Vrinks' role, Klein ensures he is prosecuted, meaning that Vrinks' evidence on the gang arrest is inadmissable and Klein exonerated of blame. He offers Camille help but she rejects him. While awaiting proceedings, Vrinks disarms his guards to talk to his wife, Camille (Valeria Golino), in the court corridor.

Camille is invited to a meeting by Silien, but her phone is being tapped by Klein's team, who are seeking him. Silien gets into her car and offers her money to live on. Klein, who has been tailing her, orders his team to move in to capture Silien despite being warned of the danger to Camille. They flee but Klein orders that Camille's small and insubstantial car forced off the road and she and Silien are killed in the crash. Klein uses Silien's gun to shoot the dead Camille, then uses his own gun to shoot Silien's body. It now looks like Silien shot Camille, causing the crash, and Klein then shot Silien in self-defence, absolving him of responsibility for their deaths.

Seven years later, Vrinks is released. Klein, who now heads the Paris criminal police, kept his team silent about the truth of Camille's death by promotions, retirements and transfers. Vrinks reunites with his daughter, telling her they are leaving after some unfinished business. He visits Titi, an old colleague, who now works at a club, to find out about Camille's death. They have an spontaneous fight with men who seemed familiar, namely Bruno's friends, who threaten revenge. Later, Bruno ambushes Titi and discovers he was one of the policemen who humiliated him before. He demands to know the names of the others before beating him into a coma.

Vrinks gets a gun to take revenge on Klein, who is attending a police ball. Using a stolen ID, Vrinks attends and confronts Klein in the lavatory. Klein explains Camille was dead when he shot her, and Vrinks suggests he kill himself with Vrinks' gun to avoid exposure. After Vrinks leaves, Klein follows him out, shouting obscenities, threatening to shoot him and blaming him for Camille's death. Bruno, lying in wait, shoots Klein dead. It appears that Titi gave his attackers Klein's name, instead of Vrinks's.

The film ends with Vrinks and his daughter at airport security, heading for a new life abroad.


Aurore Auteuil, the actress who plays Vrinks' daughter (as a grown up) in the film is Daniel Auteuil's real life daughter.


In naming the informant Silien, Olivier Marchal is making a conscious tribute to the whole genre of the French "Policier", Silien being a character in the classic film Le Doulos, played by Jean-Paul Belmondo.[4]

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